Right to buy – Right to stay?
Right to buy is a scheme designed to give many tenants living in secure social housing the opportunity to purchase the home they are living in at a heavily discounted rate. However, with UK housing prices in flux and many ageing council estates being demolished to make way for newer builds the volume of compulsory purchase orders on council estates has never been higher.
Local authorities are required by law to reimburse those displaced by future development plans; however it has recently come to light that often homeowners are being forced to accept sums far lower than market value.
Nationally, the average age for first time buyers to purchase their homes is currently 30+ years old. This alarming statistic could prove to rise significantly higher if people can no longer feel confident that ploughing their money into property is a secure investment.
The scheme met critical acclaim at its inception in the 1980s, however there is now a strengthened argument against the right, claiming that not only has it aided the soaring property prices through deferred transaction agreements but it has also conversely resulted in a predominantly large number of council owned properties residing in less-desirable areas, with lower employment opportunities where people are more reluctant to buy. This has led to those who live in social housing within these areas becoming stereotyped and stigmatised further.
Right to buy is set to be abolished in Scotland by 2017. Is this a solution for the UK market or should there perhaps be some degree of safeguarding in place for those who choose to take advantage of the right to buy scheme, such as first time buyers taking that first, tentative step onto the property ladder?